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Following his and his six brothers’ service in the Confederate Army, Sternenberg moved to Harris County, where he built a steam sawmill on Green’s Bayou in 1868. In 1882, after their Centennial Sawmill in Beaumont had been dismantled, Olive moved back to Waco permanently and expanded the Central Texas retail lumber outlets of the Waco Lumber Company, owned jointly by himself and A. J. Caruthers, to about thirty-five. Thereafter, operation of the sawmill at Olive, including all machinery and logging operations, became entirely the domain of J. A. Sternenberg, as outlined in the partnership indenture recorded in 1885.

Van A. Petty, who began as company bookkeeper in 1881, soon became secretary-treasurer of the firm, and was charged with control of finances as well as the company store and saloon. Petty, who was born at Bastrop, Texas, in 1860, was Olive’s nephew and the son of a Confederate captain, killed at the Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. Later, one partner’s oldest son, G. Adolph Sternenberg, became the active manager of mill activities, and both he and Petty acquired a quarter interest in the business. Around 1900 and after, two other sons of J. A. Sternenberg and four of his nephews became associated with the mill, by which time Petty and G. A. Sternenberg owned the firm outright.1

On October 10, 1876, Gilbert Stephenson, as executor of the Nancy Tevis Hutchinson estate, transferred the Beaumont townsite’s “steam mill square,” located where Brake’s Bayou intersects the Neches River, and bounded as well by Mulberry and Cypress Streets, to Olive and Sternenberg for $450.2

1Tenth Manuscript Census Returns of the United States, 1880, Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas, Schedule I, residences 40-54, 195; Co-partnership Indenture, Aug. 31, 1886, volume N, Page 9, Hardin County, Texas Deed Records; “Useful Life Came to End: Obituary of John Abraham Sternenberg,” Houston Daily Post, May 3, 1914; “Built Big Sawmill in Beaumont in 1875,” Beaumont Enterprise, May 5, 1914; Biography of v. A. Petty, Sr., furnished by his son, Olive Scott Petty of San Antonio; Obituary of Sid C. Olive, Waco Daily Times Herald, August 6, 1906.

2volume R, Page 138, Jefferson County, Texas Deed Records.

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